The explosive days of free agency have come and gone but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few big names available. The Las Vegas Raiders had a big opening week of free agency with the additions of Chandler Jones and Davante Adams. Since the Adams trade, the team has been much quieter. They’ve mostly looked to smaller names to fill out the roster.
However, they continue to get linked to big names. The player that almost every Raider fan wants to see in silver and black is safety Tyrann Mathieu. The former Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro remains a free agent. Raiders offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard have already tried to recruit him. Maxx Crosby decided to join the fray by stating that the colors on a honey badger are silver and black.
Notably, Mathieu’s nickname is “Honey Badger” so Crosby is clearly suggesting that he’d be a logical fit in Las Vegas. This could’ve been seen as some sort of hint that the safety was signing with the Raiders but it’s unlikely that Crosby has that insider information right now. Needless to say, fans went wild over the tweet.
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Will Mathieu Be a Raider?
It’s common for players to be recruiting other players this time of year. Crosby is no exception. He just signed a four-year extension with the Raiders and is committed to seeing the team win. There’s no doubt Mathieu would help achieve that goal. However, the likely reason he is still a free agent is that he hasn’t received an offer he likes.
The highest-paid safeties in the NFL are making over $15 million a season. Mathieu will be 30-years-old when the season starts so teams aren’t eager to pay him that much money. It remains to be seen if they even want to pay him around $10 million a year. The fact that the Chiefs gave Justin Reid over $10 million a year instead of signing Mathieu is telling. He will likely wait this out as long as possible. He could even wait until after June 1 when teams get more cap space. The Raiders will open up close to $20 million in cap space then and could revisit a Mathieu deal. They could still sign him before then but with money tight, it seems unlikely.
Stephon Gilmore or Mathieu?
Mathieu isn’t the only free agent defensive back the Raiders have been linked to. Stephon Gilmore is a logical fit with the team due to Patriots ties. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham was in New England when Gilmore played there so there’s a lot of familiarity there.
The Raiders have added a few cornerbacks this offseason with starting experience. At this point, the need for a safety outweighs the need for another cornerback. The team did sign Duron Harmon, who has starting experience, but he’s not the difference-maker that Mathieu is. If the Raiders have to pick between the two, Mathieu would fit the bigger need.